Recap time! 'cause I was away from Internet Land for way too long.
Also, this is post #100! WHOO! My computer decided to celebrate by believing that the right click is being held down, which is A. not true and B. a pain because I can't click on anything properly and so I had to disable the buttons altogether until I figure out what the heck is going on. GUH. Seriously, Konpyuutan, I love you dearly, but DO YOU HAVE TO BE WEIRD AT ME SO OFTEN????
Anyway, let's travel back in time to Monday, when I hopped on a train to Fukuoka to meet up with Sara* and Alyssa and Alyssa's boyfriend, Bruce. We rode over to Dazaifu, which is an area with a bunch of shrines and temples, including this one:
(This is the temple garden, not the temple, just to be clear.)
The weather was sort of fluctuating between sunny and COLD, which was less nice, but oh well.
So then we went to Dazaifu Tenmangu. Bruce ran away to climb a mountain, because apparently this is what he does, so Sara and Alyssa and I got lunch and then explored.
Alyssa demonstrates proper cow-rubbing procedure!
(You're supposed to rub the cow's head and then rub your own head to make yourself SMART.)
(It didn't work on Alyssa because she is already smart.)
(Either that or she got SMARTer.)
Some of the plum blossoms have started blooming!
The grounds are very pretty, if you couldn't already tell.
For some reason, there were about a million Korean tour groups at the shrine. Why the heck? It made asking people to take pictures of us very awkward, because we couldn't figure out who actually spoke Japanese...
I am not obsessed with turtles, I swear.
This is the flying plum tree.
So Tenjin, who is the kami of all the Tenmangu shrines, was actually a real person who got deified. His name was Sugiwara Michizane and he was a poet and politician and a generally really smart guy. Unfortunately, he was too smart, got embroiled in a bit of political ickiness, was framed for a crime, and got exiled from Kyoto (the imperial capital at that time) to Kyushu (the super inaka). Anyway, Sugiwara had a plum tree in the garden of his house in Kyoto, and apparently it dropped dead when he was exiled...only to regrow in Kyushu! Or so the story goes.
These are gourds. They're associated with Tenjin.
So then we went climbing up the mountain...
Oh heeeeeeeeeeeey it's an Inari.
It's hard to tell from this picture, but each bell had the kanji for one of the Chinese zodiac years on it.
...this face will haunt my nightmares.
...why do I love this one so much.
Oh, hey, there's a random cave in the back of the shrine!
Oh, hey, it's a tiny Inari shrine inside a cave!
Watch as my camera makes everything blurry!
So then we stopped to get a special kind of mochi that's meibutsu in Dazaifu.
It's grilled mochi with red bean in the middle. It also has a little imprint of a plum blossom on top!
This is 誠の滝, which literally means the waterfall of truth/sincerity.
...this is not a true waterfall, I don't even know.
Kirin! There's a hilarious story attached to kirin, but it's a Chinese story. OH WELL.
And, yes, it's the kirin as in Kirin Beer.
...we're pretty sure these are owls but we don't we really know.
I'm not obsessed with plum blossoms. You must be MISTAKEN.
This is an incredibly weird building. It houses a museum, which was closed, unfortunately, because apparently it closes on Mondays.
This was next to the museum, for some reason? Sara said she expected there to be lions down there or something, 'cause it looked weirdly like a zoo enclosure.
SO MANY FLOWERS.
This was the terrifyingly long escalator we took up to the museum building.
...I...I don't even know. You could accidentally kill yourself if you stood up wrong.
This is plum soft serve. SO DELISH.
And then I found THE BEST SCARF and it went kind of like
Me: THIS IS THE BEST SCARF. *pets it excessively*
Sara and Alyssa: You should buy it!
Me: But but but but I never buy anything for myself. *still petting scarf*
Sara and Alyssa: BUY IT.
Me: BUT. *still petting*
Sara: *thrusts money at me*
...I bought it. It is THE BEST. We are inseparable. <3
So theeeeen Alyssa had to go to Some Meeting that Wasn't with Us for Some Reason, so we headed back into Fukuoka proper, and Sara and I wandered around.
Look at that skyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
This is a recreation of one of the floats they parade around Fukuoka in a big festival (the Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival, to be exact) at the beginning of July. This is only 80% of the regular float size.
Apparently people carry these through the streets at 5 a.m., 'cause why not?
So then we went to Kushida Shrine, which is the shrine Hakata Gion Yamakasa Festival belongs to.
...why does it have a horn?
Here are a bunch of mikoshi.
...and here's a float. Notice Sara in the lower right corner for size comparison.
Husband and wife trees!
...DANG, that is a huge float.
(This is the other side of the float, if that wasn't already obvious.)
So apparently Fukuoka is really into making walls out of bits of old walls. And this is one of them.
I love it when people try to tell me how super duper classy and definitely never raunchy Japan is.
...wait, this torii was bought by Dragon Gate Pro Wrestling.
Someone is having issues understanding ema...again.
So then we wandered around Canal City (which is a shopping mall) for a while and looked at bizarre chopsticks and nearly got swept up in a mob of screaming teenagers (who were screaming because of some K-Pop group's CD release) and then we went to get Hakata ramen, which is meibutsu.
The restaurant we ate at was super weird, though, because you sit in your own little private stall, although you can collapse the walls between the stalls if you want to eat with a friend. Additionally, you never see the waiters and you never have to speak to anyone, because you fill out a little form telling them what kind of ramen you want and then push a button to call them, and they come to a tiny window in the front of your stall, take your paper, bring back the ramen, and then pull a screen over the tiny window. SO WEIRD. Apparently it's popular with women because they don't have to shout for service?
So then we headed back through Canal City toward Hakata Station...
(This is a store name, in case you need the additional context.)
And then we got a little bit lost but were saved by a nice American dude who lives in Fukuoka and showed us where the station was. And I bid Sara good night and hopped on a train back to Takeo.
So that was Monday! It was fun. Thanks, Alyssa and Sara!
Unrelated note: Multiple people have now found my blog by searching for "Higashiyama Castle" (not a real place, as far as I know) and "overweight anime characters." Wait, what.
*If you want to see Sara's side of the story as well as some photography that's much better than mine, you should click here.